Trump pressured me on Russia probe, Says Ex-FBI chief Comey

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Fired FBI director James Comey said Wednesday that Donald Trump urged him to drop a probe into former national security advisor Michael Flynn, prompting fresh allegations that the US president tried to obstruct justice.

In a bombshell revelation on the eve of his hotly anticipated appearance on Capitol Hill, Comey said Trump had raised the sensitive FBI probe into Russia s alleged meddling in the US election in multiple discussions, leaving him deeply uneasy over whether the president was attempting to interfere.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy,” Comey quoted Trump as telling him on February 14 as they sat alone together in the Oval Office, in prepared testimony for Thursday s Senate hearing.

“I had understood the president to be requesting that we drop any investigation of Flynn in connection with his false statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador in December,” added Comey, who was fired by Trump in early May.

However, Trump felt “completely and totally vindicated” by the written testimony, his private attorney said, as Comey confirmed he had told the president he was not personally under investigation.

Comey also said Trump demanded a pledge of loyalty in a meeting on January 27, just days after the Republican billionaire took office under a cloud of allegations that Russia s interference had helped him win the election.

“The president said,  I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.  I didn t move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed,” Comey said.

His comments, which confirmed the details of a number of press reports about his interactions with Trump published in recent weeks, came ahead of his appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

They also came shortly after two top US spy agency chiefs had skirted questions from the Senate panel about whether Trump asked them to intervene in the Flynn probe, as reported by The Washington Post.

Neither Director of Intelligence Dan Coats nor National Security Agency chief Mike Rogers denied the Post story. But both said they never felt “pressured” to act.

“I ve never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way with shaping intelligence in a political way or in relationship to an ongoing investigation,” Coats said.

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